BJP chief Amit Shah addressed a meeting. Photograph:( Twitter )
In a stinging attack on Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday asked him to quit for not been able to develop the state despite completing 18 years in office and receiving over Rs 4 lakh crore funds from the Centre.
Shah was addressing a micro-management group - Shakti Kendra- comprising BJP functionaries from gram panchayats.
He said the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has so far pumped in Rs 4 lakh crore, including Rs 2.11 lakh crore grant, to Odisha but the BJD regime failed to utilise it.
Stating that the central government has taken up many initiatives to develop Odisha, the BJP chief said the objectives are yet to be fulfilled as the state has failed to implement different programmes and projects in a proper manner.
Shah, who is here to chalk out a master plan to achieve BJP's target of securing over 120 of the 147 Assembly seats in Odisha in the 2019 polls, said a large number of people are still deprived of electricity connection and safe drinking water, even as Patnaik completed 18 years in office.
The BJP chief exuded confidence that the party would sweep the Odisha Assembly polls in view of the "dismal" performance of the BJD government, and riding on the achievements of the central government.
"With such energy and enthusiasm among @BJP4Odisha karyakartas, BJP is all set to sweep Odisha in 2019 under the leadership of PM@Narendra Modi," he said in a tweet.
Shah asked panchayat-level BJP leaders to visit each and every household in their jurisdiction in the next 15 days, describing them as the party's "real energy".
"The people in villages should realise that the state government has failed them as well as the state," he told the panchayat-level leaders from 21 Assembly segments, spread over three Lok Sabha segments of Puri, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
Stating that the saffron party has moved ahead a lot in the state, he said the progress made within four years "indicated that the BJP will form the next government in Odisha".
Shah also raised the issue of missing keys of Lord Jagannath's 'Ratna Bhandar'.
"If a government cannot safeguard the religious sentiments of the people, how can it protect the interest of the masses?" he asked.
Immediately after his arrival in the party's state headquarters here, Shah held a closed-door meeting with the 21 'pravaris' representing all the 21 Lok Sabha segments in the state.
"The party president took stock of the situation and an account of the tasks given to all the 'pravaris'. He was satisfied over the development made by the party in the last six months," senior BJP leader Pratap Sarangi told reporters.
"We have made substantial growth. The party president will guide us and give tips on how to improve further," said Odisha BJP chief Basant Panda.
With less than a year to go for the Odisha Assembly polls and the general elections, Shah's visit has "spurred enthusiasm" among the party workers, who are gearing up to cross swords with the ruling BJD, another senior party leader said.
"The visit is more significant as the BJP president has set a target for the party to win at least 120 out of the 147 seats in the next Assembly polls," he said.
Shah reviewed the organisational activities and "fine-tuned" election strategies with inputs from senior state party leaders, he added.
The BJP president, who had last year launched a booth contact programme - 'Mo Booth Sabuthu Majbhoot' (My booth is the strongest one) in Odisha, assigned the state party leaders of ensuring door-to-door visit by booth workers to inform people about the "pro-poor" initiatives and welfare measures undertaken by the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre.
Shah's Odisha visit, which is seen as a part of the BJP's 'Look East' policy, comes in the midst of a war of words between his party and the ruling BJD over the state government's rejection of the Centre's 'Ayushman Bharat' scheme.
"That the BJP has identified Odisha as a 'focus' state is clear from the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose Cuttack to address his government's anniversary rally on May 26," another state BJP leader said,, adding that the party appears to be "better placed" this time to win more seats in Odisha in both the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections.
Out of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha, the BJP was able to bag just one seat in the 2014 general elections, while the rest were won by the BJD. In the last state assembly polls, the saffron party had won 10 of the 147 seats.